Last weekend I was at a town hall meeting with my Congressman, Rick Larsen (D WA-2). During the Q&A he was asked if he would support impeachment hearings against George W. Bush. The short answer was “No” but in his explanation it became clear why this, as with all things in government over the past six years, it is Bill Clinton’s fault. Larsen said that he felt that the bar for impeachment should be set extremely high and that, while he felt the Republicans had lowered the bar significantly for the Clinton impeachment, he believed that impeaching Bush would only make the Democrats (paraphrasing) ‘appear to be seeking revenge and not justice and, therefore, simply returning the favor.’
Then, this morning, I am checking out the Seattle Times and find this from Times columnist Danny Westneat:
”Impeach Bush? Don't bother” – “…I'm with the "cowards" on this one. I'm with them because I was there in Congress covering the last impeachment for The Seattle Times. I saw the atmosphere become so hostile that Republicans and Democrats wouldn't even get on elevators together, let alone cooperate to do anything important.
Regardless of whether Clinton deserved to be impeached for lying under oath about an affair, there's no question the proceedings turned Congress into a dysfunctional mess…” He adds, ”Obviously, the war is vastly more important than Clinton's sex life. It should be investigated,…” but then, like Larsen, and even Jay Inslee (D WA-1), whom Westneat’s column is attempting to insulate from his more Progressive constituency because of his recent high profile anti-impeachment stance, he stops short of impeachment by concluding, ”But as with Clinton, it would likely cripple the very institution that, for better or worse, we're relying on to get us out of a war. It just isn't worth it.”
So there you are. Damn you Bill Clinton! Because you were impeached for sex, Bush walks free for lying to Congress, illegal wiretapping of American citizens, violations of international laws against torture and kidnapping – all of this while ordering thousands to their deaths in a “war of choice.”
It does make one wonder, however, what do you do if you actually discover something at the end of your investigation? I mean, think about it. All of these folks are saying we should ‘investigate the hell out of these guys’ but we should stop short of impeachment because THAT would “cripple the institution.” So that would suggest that they are saying our elected representatives should spend countless hours and untold amounts of our tax dollars conducting investigations that, even if they lead to wrongdoing, will be filed in the archives for future generations to review just in case they ever come up with a question of what constitutes “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Look, there is not a louder anti-war voice out here than mine. I am livid that, after four years, the Democrats still cannot (will not) come together to demand an end to this tragedy. I still think they should be expected to do more than one thing at a time. Westneat remembers the gridlock in Congress during the Clinton impeachment. He seems to forget that the newly elected Republican majority in Congress, beginning with the House take-over in 1994, had instituted a policy of gridlock as a means to their ends of strangling government. The Clinton impeachment was just a side-show of distraction for the media. If a Democratic majority in Congress is not capable of performing all of their constitutional duties, then we are doomed before we start.
In the matter of impeachment there is only one standard that must be met. Because the Republicans did not come close to honoring that standard with the Clinton impeachment, it does not forgive this congress or any future congress from their obligation to the Constitution and the American people to measure every president against that standard. That standard? Has the president committed high crimes or misdemeanors resulting in significant harm to the country? So, to those such as Rick Larsen, Jay Inslee, Patty Murray, and any other elected Democrats who would call for “investigations to nowhere”, I would remind you of this treasured cliché’: Two wrongs don’t make a right. F ailing to act because the Republicans failed in their action not only sets an even more onerous precedent but, I believe it violates your oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution.
Chad (The Left) Shue